Last year was another groundbreaking period of the mobile revolution. Overall app usage grew by 58 percent, driven largely by personalization, media and productivity apps.
What’s interesting is the majority of this growth came from existing users, providing that mobile addicts — users that launch apps more than 60 times a day — are here to stay. With America in the full throes of app addiction, we’ll see some interesting trends take hold in the year ahead. Below are five mobile trends to watch in 2016.
The appification of the web and TV
Research shows that hours spent watching traditional television per month has declined significantly, especially for those ages 18-24 (-46 hours) and 25-34 (-42 hours). Not to mention, media consumption in apps grew 108 percent from Q2 of 2014 to Q2 of 2015.
It’s no surprise then that we’re already seeing an appification on TV, with services like Roku and Apple TV consolidating digital video apps into a single platform for easy viewing. But as media consumption in apps continues to accelerate, we’ll also begin to see this transformation on the web.
Apps will replace browsers, and desktop destinations will begin to emulate app experiences to make it easier for consumers to access the content and services most important to them. We’re already seeing this on websites like LinkedIn, that now offer more personalized, social-centric experiences that mimic a user’s behavior within apps.
Small phones will soon become extinct
Small-screen smartphones are giving way to larger form factors. Global time spent in apps on phablets versus all other devices was almost 3 to 1 in 2015, and over 50 percent of 2015 Android holiday activations were phablets. This is due to the fact that now more than ever, consumers are turning to their phones to consume content, and they want it on bigger screens. That’s why phablets have become the most popular form factor for media consumption.
In 2015, we saw significant YOY growth rates for news and magazine (5.34x), sports (5.16x) and entertainment apps (4.19x) on phablets versus all other mobile devices. As a result, small smartphones are quickly becoming endangered and are on their way to extinction, while phablets are rising to become the dominant form factor.
Broadcast will become multicast
With the on-demand nature of mobile and TV, primetime has become a thing of the past. More and more, users are turning to their phones and tablets to view content where and when they want it. And with 90 percent of time on mobile being spent in apps, and more time now spent in apps than watching TV, content has taken on a new meaning.
Through apps, users now have the ability to create rich content that is shareable and discoverable within social communities across screens, and that’s what’s capturing consumer eyeballs. The mobile industry is headed in a direction where content and communities collide, and as a result, new methods of consuming and distributing content through apps will emerge.
Messaging centers and AI: the new customer service models
Proliferation among messaging and chat platforms is nothing new. According to our research, social and messaging apps increased by 50 percent from Q2 of 2014 to Q2 of 2015. This comes as no surprise when we look at the rise in mobile addicts in 2015.
As messaging and chat grow to become the dominant form of communication, we’ll begin to see a shift in customer service models. We’re already seeing this trend unfold on e-commerce websites, where consumers can chat with a customer service representative any time of the day. This year will see a decline in call centers and an upsurge in messaging and chat centers. AI concierge services will begin to emerge, giving way to more sophisticated and automated customer service platforms.
On-demand services: only the strongest will survive
The on-demand economy is here to stay. Companies like Uber, Minibar, Instacart, Postmates, Thumbtack and Amazon saw massive success in 2015, offering users the luxury of convenience for everyday chores and activities at affordable prices.
This accelerated growth rate of new on-demand services will ultimately lead to a Battle Royale to fulfill the local logistics of these apps. How and who is fulfilling the on-demand app services? Companies must work increasingly hard to stand out in the crowd and retain their talent to continue serving this high-demand market.
As mobile continues to dominate our lives and the way in which we engage on our tablets and smartphones becomes increasingly social, there will be several pivotal shifts in the way we consume content and interact with others. To stay ahead in this ever-changing ecosystem, it’s imperative for app companies and service providers to keep these trends in mind when planning the future of their business.